Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Word of the Year

Is "Blog," according to Mirriam-Webster publishing company. While I myself would have voted for homo or retard, I'm still happy to see blog up there.
LA versus SF

Just being back one day and I notice such a vast difference between LA and SF, or at least my lifestyles here and there. In SF, I eat like a pig-king. Seriously. I eat a lot and a lot of really good food. And it's not just when I live at home...I remember living in the city and eating really well in general - going out, shopping at Whole Foods, that whole jazz. The lifestyle in SF is this - you work to live...the job simply supports lifestyle.

LA, it's the opposite. You live to work. I essentially spend my money on work - dropping coin to make films, etc. Today I haven't eaten shit - an apples and some pretzels...and I'm about to eat some crap at the UV for lunch. Good food is around, but not ubiquitous. In Marin and SF, good food is everywhere and it sings to you like a siren. My mom cooks well. SF makes me want to cook well. LA makes me want to eat quickly so I can get down to business.
Goddamn Immigrants

Ahhh, NPR, always offering up something interesting. Here is an 8 minute piece about race relations in Fremont. The twist: some excellent Fremont public schools are dominated by wealthly immigrant Asians and the whites are now complaining about assimilation...the same whites who 50 years ago fled the city because of too many colored folks. Gotta love the irony.

The whole public education thing is super tough. The same issue gets raised on a state-wide scale with respect to parcel taxes, which are local community taxes on land that get fed directly into the school system. Wealthy areas voluntarily tax themselves a little more on their expensive land and hence get better public schools. Many think it's unfair because that money should be distributed equally to all California school children, rich or poor. The problem is, if it were, the wealthy parents wouldn't volunteer to pay the tax, and would likely send their kids to private school. So what do we do? School vouchers? Ahhh...beeep, beeep, beep, that's a Republican word...

I find it funny whenever whites complain about people not integrating - but I must say, that I somewhat agree. What makes America great is integration - both in the private and public sphere. We should aspire to be the melting pot, and not the salad bowl many fear we are becoming. But I don't blame only the immigrants for not assimilating...it's like going to a party. Sometimes, if a guest isn't having a good time, it's because they're a sourpuss, but sometimes it's because the host throws a shitty party with shitty music and bad alcohol and food and it's tough to have a good time.

In general, from what I've seen, Asian parents push their kids too hard - but they do good in school and aren't blowing up airplanes, so what do I care?

Goddamn immigrants, always causing one sort of a problem or another. :)

Monday, November 29, 2004

Off to Shoot a Movie

Shooting another 532 "documentary style" aka "I didn't have the time to make a shot list style."
Flying Today

was an utter nightmare, long waits, full planes, but I got home via Burbank - the best kept secret of east los angeles...

Also bought the new Eminem CD, haven't finished listening to the whole thing yet, but my initial impression isn't very high - especially compared to the Eminem Show, which is one of best CD purchases I ever made.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Forty Niners

Man, they must have one of the most awful offenses ever. I went to the game today with my uncle who got tickets from my cousin - no one in their right mind seems to want to watch the Niners these days. Tim Rattay is total garbage. He looks at one receiver, eyes him, and then throws it to him, usually misthrowing it, thus lowering both the chance that it will be caught or intercepted. The defense looks okay, but that was against a crappy Dolphins offense.

Anyhow, the most interesting thing I noticed was the difference between the fans and say, baseball or soccer fans. I'd say the average weight is about 30 pound heavier, and the average amount of facial hair, 30-50% more. They also have a ton of cheerleaders, like almost 50.
Cougar and Fupa

Last night we had a little class of '92 middle school reunion, it was pretty funny stuff. One of the things I like best about the guys I grew up with is the mutual love for funny, descriptive words...classics like choad or donkey. This weekend I learned a couple more:

1. Cougar - a 50-something woman who is down with younger, ie 26ish men. They were out and about in Tiburon last night.

2. Fupa - fat upper pussy area

3. Gump - see Fupa, or what was called a rumpus/rump in middle school.

These things will certainly make their way into my screenplays, especially the cougar, it's hilarious.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

The Incredibles

Just watched this film and quite enjoyed it. I think it might have a chance, in a this weak year of films, to get nominated for Best Picture. I'm not a huge fan of animation and pixar and all of that, but when the script is good and the action exciting, I can't help but enjoy myself. My favorite parts of the film involve the family of Incredibles trying to deal with mediocrity and living in a world that wants everyone to be special...and hence no one.

The Incredibles is in many ways a perfect post-modern film...nearly the entire thing is derivative, borrowed from super hero films, including Spiderman II, James Bond, and Eminem's Stan. Add in the playful suburban banter while saving the world and movie stars voicing the computer animation and your witness to nearly all of the major developments of the post modern film era...I guess the only thing missing is a non-linear plot and of course, the fact that, well, it's a super hero movie.

Here is more praise, from the design angle.
Libya versus Iran

While the Bush administration rightfully celebrates the effect of the Iraq war on Libya and their choice to abandon their weapons program, shouldn't it also then take responsibility for Iran speeding up it's bid for nuclear weapons.

The timing of Iran's expediting their nuclear program has two strategic reasons - one, to deter a US invasion and two, because the US is "bogged down" in Iraq, there is no way we could send a sizable enough ground force to occupy Iran. We could bomb them, but as Max Boot acknowledges says in the article, bombing would probably not be sufficient to guarantee the elimination of the nuclear threat.

The Iraq War has ended the reign of some fasicsts in the Middle East - the Hussein's and the Baathists in Iraq and Ghaddafy in Libya, but it has also emboldened some fascists in the Middle East - Zarqawi and the Iranians. We need to acknowledge both.
I've Been Saying This

No one in Hollywood knows or seems to care about Van Gogh. And here's a great Salon article, if you go through the free commercial.

I want to see some of his films. They sound delightfully offensive.
Chillin in the City

I kicked it downtown last night a place called Swig, right near the Clift. The place was okay, no cover, a little fancy, a little bit of a scene, tons of girls. I was frankly, a little amazed at the number of scenesters out...I forgot that SF can somewhat compete with LA in those terms. I guess there are fewer places overall in SF, and the people seem a little less silly. Saw lots of old peeps and it was the same old thing as always - "Oh, how are things with you, etc, etc."

Friday, November 26, 2004

More Cornell West Notes

He talked about having a tragic-comic blues sensibility towards the world. He named a couple of names, the only one's I knew were Bessie Smith and John Coltrane. The idea is to be able to smile and laugh in the face of tragedy rather than allow ourselves to get wrapped up in hate and revenge. He talked about blues artists as individual practitioners of democracy. We talked about comedy in directing class the other day, and our brilliant professor, Eugene talked about how great comedy often becomes tragic, pointing to Charlie Chaplin's movies, when you are laughing at him, laughing with him, and then crying because it's funny and moving and tragic all at the same time. I felt similar about the film Sideways - so painful and sad and funny all at the same time. If I can make movies or anything in this model, well, I'd be happy.

He also talked about not being a pacifist and about fighting what he calls gangsterizm everywhere. He talked about WWII, in which he would have fought with the allies against the evil Hitler, despite the US Army being racist and segregated. He talked about how he would have fought with George Washington against Britain, and George III, an imperial power...but then he would also have fought with his "Red" brothers against the United States as we massacred the Indian people. I don't necessarily agree with him on who I would fight in each specific case(I wish someone would have asked where he stood on Iraq), but I love his logic and reasoning and completely agree with fighting for the lesser of two evils. He understands democracy as the best solution to insoluble problems - and it is this logic that ought to permeate our public debate.
2nd Best Thing About Thanksgiving - Leftovers

Turkey Sandwich followed by Jook -- Chinese rice porridge - YUM!

Recipe for Jook:

1 Medium/Large Onion
3 or 4 Stalks of Celery, cut in thirds
Turkey Bones
1 Preserved duck leg or ham
1 1/4 cup of washed rice
1/2 cup lean pork
3 or 4 pieces of dried scallops (optional) - soak for 1 hour
chong toy - preserved vegetable (optional) or a small piece of stem, soak for 15 min
2 or 3 scrambled eggs
season to taste, salt or soy sauce

Method: Cook turkey bones, onions, celery, preserved duck (or ham), chong toy, scallops in a pot of water. Cover all ingredients with water and bring to boil, them simmer for 2 to 3 hours. Drain in collander. Place stock in pot, and pick out turkey meat and shred (to be added again later). Dispose of bones, etc. Add washed rice to stock, bring to boil, stirring occasionally so that rice does not stick to bottom of pot. In meantime, add chopped lean pork to the rice, making small pieces to disintergrate into soup. Cook altogether until mixture thickens. Add shredded turkey later on. Cook together for 1 1/2 hour until desired consistency. Stir 2 or 3 scrambled eggs briskly at the very end. Also add water anytime you think the mixture is getting too thick. Season to taste.

This stuff is the bomb for shizzle my nizzle.

I'm Not A Big Fan of Weightlifting

In general, I find it to be a bunch of hyper-masculine losers overcompensating for well, you know...just kidding....I more accurately see it the way Seinfeld does when Kenny Banya tells him, "You should really go to the gym and work out." Jerry's response, "Why?" Banya, "Because, you know, to get buff." Jerry's response again, "Why?"

But I will say this - it's nice to hear about young men in Afghanistan are into something different than joining the Taliban or Al Queda or something like that. At least they're thinking about chicks and I think that type of attitude can really go a long way in the Muslim world.
French Film Banned in France (festivals)

Well, this just makes me want to see it.
Film Students Pay Attention

All the Marxists should get a kick out of this, but unfortunately, they probably won't. The Death of Capitalism...by technology...in an age when a computer programmer can essentially own his own means of production, how far are we away from an individual owning his own TV network.

The cost of a facility for Webcasting is far less than the cost of a facility for television broadcasting. At some point in the relatively near future the quality of the webcast will be as good as, if not better than, that of broadcast television, and the cost of a webcasting facility for high-quality production will be within the range of many individuals. Just as the personal computer capable of producing first-rate software is revolutionizing the work relations of software, the personal webcasting facility will change the nature of the broadcasting media. It also changes the dynamics of production.

Pay attention to what happens with blogs - this is to publishing as what webcasting will be to broadcast media....for all of those who did well on the old SAT.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Cornell West on TV

Talking at CMC, my old rival. Inspirational speaker. He posed many questions...the one that specifically addressed me was one I've been asking myself for awhile: "For those of us young people in favor of the war, why aren't we there fighting?"

My friend's younger brother is off to Kuwait next week, fighting with the Marines. I wonder to myself...there is this world with severe problems and this country, which is hurt and sick and needs help and I'm going to froo-froo film school and before that, working for a litigation consulting company. It's not just about joining the army, but it's about serving your country or performing a duty or something like that...

I tested for the Foreign Service and didn't take the 2nd round seriously enough and did not get in. I was too wrapped up in film school. I need and want to finish film school, but what after that?

Are my choices simply selfish? I don't aspire to be or live that way. Tough questions.
Old Newsweek

I like lounging around the house and reading whatever is laying around. Today, I've been perusing Newsweek magazines from the last couple of months. The most interesting articles were Fareed Zakaria's article on the election and an article about Bob Dylan. The election article talks about how we are in the first foreign policy election since 1960. Recently, the democrats have been whining about how the election came down to moral values...but I think they are wrong. The election was about foreign policy and the war and in order for Kerry to win, he needed to demonstrate how he would do a better job on the war. He didn't. In the article, Zakaria listed three questions that each candidate must answer:

1. Define the war
2. Define success in the war
3. Explain how your policies will best ensure success

Bush defines the war well. He does not define success well - he says, democracy in Iraq - which is too broad and hard to measure. His policies seem very vulnerable and do not seem to be achieving the broad definition of success.

On the other hand, we have Kerry, who in my opinion, never really was able to define the war. And this goes for the entire democratic party, who offers decent criticisms to Bush's idea of the war, but cannot define it for themselves.

The sooner we recognize this is why the election was lost, the sooner we will be able to regroup and be a serious political force.

I always have trouble deciding what to eat during the daytime of thanksgiving. Part of me is like, "don't eat too much, save up until dinner." The other part of me snacks on everything in sight. Today I ate my leftovers from last night, always a smart choice, a Marin Jo's burger - yum yum, I love how in SF it's the almost the norm to get a burger on great sourdough bread...growing up, I always thought of sourdough as the norm for sandwiches, but painfully realized too late in life, that sourdough - the good SF kind, really is only found out here. You can get it in LA, but it's missing something, some special ingrediant or water or something.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004


I try not to throw around the term lightly, but I just think this cartoonist is so damn prescient. This is what I was talking about - it's all freaking entertainment.

Bin Laden hit by beer, War on Terror Halted
My Hero

Earl of Sandwich...inventor of the Sandwich - I never knew this story, but was always fond of whomever invented the sandwich. It has given me great pleasure over the years. And now this, to discover he invented it so that he wouldn't need to leave the table when gambling. Now that is genius.

An angry mob beats and sets on fire two Federal Agents in Mexico.
Life of Brian - Photo Blog

Lewis' photo blog.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Two Mosting Interesting Personalities of the Past 5 Years...

Are Osama Bin Laden and George Bush. The weird thing is that I don't really find these two all that interesting...neither are very intellectual or have any sort of new, profound vision of the world. Both are privileged kids, fairly friendly and easy to get along with guys. They would probably be fun fraternity brothers, but not great orators or intellectuals or visionaries, that one would expect would influence the world.

The thing they both have in common, is a simple and clear message. Bin Laden has a simple message: the United States is assalting Muslims around the world and the Middle East ought to be government by Islamic law. His message manifests itself in patient, consistent attacks against America, and building and training an Islamic army. Bush's simple message is compassionate conservatism...which manifests itself in different policies which are most noted for being inflexible and not subject to open debate. In Iraq he insists on "staying the course," with respect to tax cuts, he insists, despite a growing budget.

It is interesting the power, of a single, consistant message...I saw the beginning of a Tarkovsky film the other day when a man says, "I think if someone does something, just one thing every day, consistently, they can change the world." I guess there is something to be said for it.
Desparate Housewives

It's on the cover of Newsweek. I heard good reviews from people. My family watches it. It's risen to the top of TV ratings quicker than ER, Seinfeld, or CSI. They got great controvery and free advertisement on Monday Night Football. The idea is great (and influenced by porn, by the way). I watched it the other night - it was horrible. Really, really, poorly written and uncompelling. I heard the first episode was good, but boy, was I unimpressed. It won't last...I may watch another episode or two and give it a chance, but by any indication, this show is not a keeper.

Good idea, though.
Basketball Brawl

Here's a really smart article on the basketball brawl, connecting it such issues of political divisive-ness, entitlement, and thug-wealth (both players and fans).

Something he doesn't bring up, but which undoubtled plays a role in this whole freaking mess of a world we're in, is entertainment. I've watched this brawl more than any basketball this season and I'm a semi-fan. Someone is making money. We watch this thuggary because it's entertaining - and we all have to admit it's entertaining. It's part of series of thug entertainment, the WWF, Jerry Springer, and even --- 9/11. What was 9/11 other than a reality program than out-Jerry Bruckheimered Jerry Bruckheimer?

We can try to explain why Islamic fundamentalism has taken root. We can try to explain the increased thug nature of the NBA and it's fans. We can try to explain the increasingly political divisiveness between the parties and the Red and the Blue. We can try to explain why America distrusts the world and why the world distrusts America...for socio-political and cultural and monetary reasons. But does anyone look at these things as ENTERTAINMENT. Remember Training Day, when Ethan first meets Denzel and nervously talks over breakfast. Denzel, annoyed, stops reading his paper and says to Ethan, "Do you know why I read the newspaper? Because it entertains me. 90% of the stuff in here is bullshit - but it entertains me. Since you won't let me read the newspaper, you entertain me."

We like picking scabs...
Airline Travel

Yesterday was spent flying up to SF and then hanging with buddies in the city - hence no blogging. The flight up, however, gave me some interesting thoughts on airline security. First, there is simply no need to check certain passengers – old ladies, young children. We are in a war with Al Queda and like minded groups, groups that trained insurgents and terrorists in camps in Afghanistan during the 1990s and now continue to train terrorists and fighters in Pakistan after the Afghan war. We have a good idea of this demographic – a MIXTURE of men between 17-40 from all over the world (including Marin, where I’m from – John Walker Lindh and the Netherlands, where the murders of Theo Van Gogh were born and raised).

I looked through the line and for most people, you could easily tell that these folks had zero chance of training in Afghan or Pakistani camps – Asian families, old ladies from the Midwest, a young Hispanic couple holding each other in line. There were a few folks who fit a profile, young, single men, aged 18-40…clearly I was one of them. With this war, I don’t think RACIAL profiling would do the trick…clearly it is a global war against Islamic fanatics that range from the Saudi’s of 9/11, to the Philippino radicals, to the Netherlands, Spain, Britain, Iraq, and in America. However, I see no need to have grandmothers taking off their weird square rubber shoes to be double checked getting into the plane. By overchecking, I actually think you lessen security. It’s like in filmmaking – if you just decide to shoot random coverage of the scene, you won’t get a precise result and the overall quality of the scene will go down. If, however, you plan smartly, get the appropriate coverage and get the good shots that you planned for, you make a dynamite scene.

The same type of precision ought to apply to security, airline or border security or whatever. In the end, however, maybe whatever we are doing is working fine…we haven’t seen any more 9/11s in 3 years. Perhaps 9/11 was a lucky, damn lucky fluke that the terrorists pulled off – something where the stars were aligned perfectly for them, and we need not overreact. Maybe.
Response to the 14th Amendment Question

The 14th Amendment is not designed to hinder protecting citizens from wartime enemies or criminal activity. If a criminal suspect meets a certain description, cops are able to stop a person who meets that description, whether they be red, brown, grew, blue, male female, 10 or 100. This is not a violation of the Constitution. It WOULD be a violation of the Constitution to lock up every single person meeting a description, or even a single person meeting that description without a fair trial…but to think we cannot investigate a suspect meeting a description because of the 14th Amendment is absurd.

If an 18-40 white male murders someone and is trying to drive away, the cops don’t stop cars full of families or Hispanic ladies, they stop cars with white men from 18-40 to check them to see if they have the murder weapon or blood on their shirt. If they pull over an innocent white man 18-40 and let him go, it is not a violation of the 14th Amendment. Now it seems to me stupid to pull over all cars and do a roadblock to “treat everyone equally.” That is what happens on the airlines.

In the post 9/11 world, we face a different type of criminal/enemy…if you believe George Bush, we cannot wait for the terrorist to commit a crime before chasing him down and prosecuting him – by then it is too late. Imagine that - we’ll show you Mohammed Atta – we sentence you to life in prison…no voting for you – HA! Don’t think so. So it’s a tricky situation and clearly terrorists has figured out a loophole in our system to exploit.

Monday, November 22, 2004


The 14th Amendment:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

EQUAL PROTECTION OF ALL CITIZENS (I'm not arguing about foreign nationals).
Explain how choosing people out of a line because of the color of their skin is equal treatment.

I understand how you can say "oh, just one little extra search for brown people at the airport" but this discussion really isn't about one small example, at least not for me. I certainly do understand your point, Israel has a policy of thoroughly checking all young brown men at airports and they haven't had a terrorist incident on a plane in 30 years. But, i absolutely give you the "slippery slope" argument. There must be a thorough and fair way to check all passengers boarding planes.

"I am more willing to entertain restrictions that affect all of us like identity cards and more intrusive X-ray procedures at airports - and am somewhat more skeptical of restrictions that affect only some of us, like those that focus on immigrants or single out people by nationality."
-Walter Dellinger, former Acting Solicitor General during the Clinton Administration

Flight delayed for two possible terrorists. What a bunch of racists.

Where in the Constitution does it say that racial profiling is illegal? This isn't a Constitutional argument, it is a policy argument.

And what does it mean "you can't mess with the constitution?" The constitution is a living document - one that changes both in wording through amendments and interpretation by judges. There isn't some core constitution that everyone agrees upon - that is why we have a supreme court.

Also, I fail to see how complaints of McCarthyism addresses the terror issue. I think we ought to investigate and track radical Islamic groups...and that is way more McCarthyistic than profiling on airplanes. I don't think radicals should be blacklisted and not allowed to work, but I also don't think they should be allowed to enroll in flight schools. The problem with McCarthyism is that McCarthy used scare tactics to blacklist those who weren't organizing to overthrow the US government - he ruined lives and cause a climate of fear for people in the creative industry who had explored Communism. Also, he forced people to name names or threatened them with prosecution. An argument for profiling can be made that does not involve people losing their jobs or in any way having their fundamental rights stripped from them. It is can simply be a matter of inconvenience of being double checked at the airplane. There is a big difference between having your job and livelihood stripped from you or locked in an internment camp than being double checked at an airline. And don't pull the slippery slope argument, because no single policy necessitates another. Because one is in favor of profiling Muslim males in airport security does not mean one supports Muslim internment camps.

In speaking of the Constitution, you mention equality. But the core Constitutional question going all the way back to the Federalist Papers, is the balance between equality and liberty. We believe in equal opportunity, but not at the expense of liberty. This has been upheld time and time again - it is the reason why people are allowed to inheret and pass down their money to their children...how is it "equal" that some are born rich and others poor? It is not. But you can't take away the rights of people to spend their money how they want. If they choose to pass it on to their children, it is their right.

And the issue of "living without terror," is an issue of liberty. The very meaning of liberty is to live with constriction or control...you liken the airline security issue to McCarthyism. I would argue the other way - McCarthy terrorized people for thought. The tactics used by McCarthy were fear whereas what should have been happening is debate.

Now look at today. Terror groups are again using fear to get us to change our policies - what they ought to be using is debate. Unfortunately, we cannot vote out terrorists from office, although that would be nice.
Show me where in the constitution it gurantees the right "live without terror." I do, however, believe there are portions about equality of all people. We are a society of laws, you can't arbitrarily suspend the fundamentals of our nation because you want to "live without terror." which is a wonderfully nubulous phrase. Do i really need to invoke memories of McCarthyism, because that's what this sounds like. The restriction of civil libirties because of a new threat that is scaring people. The United States of America has to be true to one thing, the laws laid out in our Constitution, just because there's a new threat on the horizon doesn't mean you all of a sudden forget about that.

Lincoln was absolutely wrong and I don't care how he's remembered, you cannot mess with the constitution. Additionally, if the south had been allowed to leave, we would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives and George Bush wouldn't be our President....but, that's a different debate.

By the way, the blogs are too long and the logic meanders all over the place. Break this down into snippets which we can understand, because it's too much of a hassle to wade through all of it.

But, it's a good discussion topic, i agree.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

I Love You Even if You Are a Racist

I guess we've hit on a topic that generates discussion - that's GOOOOOD.

Jared (whom I'm happy to see has re-joined the blogosphere), as usual, has an intriguing, smart, and BIG comment/proposal:
'Race' is a term for cultural patterns that arise out of biological differences (i.e. skin color, eyelid folds, dominant endocrine gland, etc.) Cultural patterns will exist as long as biological differences do. Similarly, Societal patterns will exist as long as cultural patterns do. Ergo, we'll be a post racial society when biological differences have become less noticeable than other 'first impression' like characteristics of a person.

He doesn't say it, but his solution is miscegenation - which I'm all in favor of, although I'm not sure if we could make an official policy of this.

In the prior post, Chuck accuses me of being Ashcroft-ish...to clarify: I was not advocating, nor am in favor of, racial profiling. But I'm not NOT in favor of it because of some b.s. sense of political correctness or some sense of it will undermine the whole idea of America and all that crap. I think, as a policy, it needs to be evaluated as to it's usefulness and whether it can be implemented, who and what rights it violates versus who and what rights it protects.

People have a right not to be singled out because of their race and arbitrarily harassed. I would fight for this right. People also have a right to live their lives without fear from terror. I would fight for this right as well. It is when these two rights come in conflict with one another that the debate begins. Chuck and Cindy do not want to have this debate - they believe that the right to not be harassed absolutely outweights the right for people to live without fear of terror. I disagree.

In 1961, Lincoln suspended habeas corpus and arrested "copperhead" Democrats, who were in favor of coming to a peaceful truce with the South - they were willing to let the South secede from the Union. They did so by discouraging Unionists to serve in the army and discourage any activity that provoked Civil War. They believed the United States could survive without the South. They were willing to let the South be their own country, with slavery and whatever laws they wanted. Lincolned disagreed. He did not think the United States could survive as a divided land - that if we didn't stand up for liberty, that America as an idea, would no longer exist, and that over time, we would no longer offer "the last best hope to mankind."

In order to preserve liberty, he suspended the liberty of "copperhead" Democrats. In 1866, the Supreme Court overturned Lincoln's decision and ruled it unconstitutional. How is Lincoln remembered? As the one who suspended the free speech and rights of political opponents or the greatest President in the history of the United States?

When we discuss profiling with respect to airline security, let's remember what we are discussing - the right of free people to live without fear from terror. Imagine if a plane a week was hijacked by Islamic terrorists - EVERYONE would be in favor of racial profiling. (implausible? look what happened to Israel during the two Infitadas....daily suicide attacks for months) The issue is one of degree, what degree are we willing to profile versus what degree we are able to live in fear of terrorism.

To those against racial profiling I pose a real challenge other than to protest it - to devise a better solution that reduces terrorism to an acceptable risk. The question is how to prevent terrorism, not how to ensure that everyone on flights feels hunky dory about how society views them. Sadly, even if we don't profile, passengers will still be suspicious of groups of Arabs on planes...so regardless of profiling or not, Arab men will still feel ostracized. This is an element of human nature - one that can't be legislated against.

If one is truly interested in eliminating the stereotype of Arab/Islamic terrorists, the most efficient way is to eliminate Arab and Islamic terrorism. Simple as that.

I wish people would clean their own house. I always thought and still think the NRA should lead the charge on gun safety...instead, they seem to oppose any move towards gun safety because they perceive it as a move against the 2nd Amendment. It would build trust.

I feel the same way towards moderate Islamic groups - they should at the forefront of discussion about how to stop Islamic terrorism, rather than be the forefront of discussion about how Islam is getting a bad rap by the powers that be. It would build trust.

Likewise, if I heard the left seriously address the issue of Islamic terrorism instead of simply bemoaning the right for the usual - racism, elitism, religionism, etc, it would build trust.
I think this statement from Greg is ridiculous:

"Believe it or not, there are more important issues than racism. Security for one...for instance - would you rather be racist or dead from a plane hijacking - obviously, one would rather be racist. But that is an unfair example. Would you, however, rather be "racist" and feel secure knowing that Arab males not born in the US between 18-40 were being double checked at airline security? I'm not sure, that's a question people ought to ask themselves....and if I were such an Arab male, I would likely be hurt and offended by such a policy, but I would also understand why such a policy existed."

I'm astounded to hear Greg using John Ashcroft logic to support racial profiling. You're effectively saying wouldn't you rather be safe than maintain freedom and the ideals our country is built on!?!?

I would much rather have a society free of racism and take my chances that exteremists want to blow up a plane. Absolutely. The problem with the 9/11 hijackers wasn't their skin or what they held in their pockets, it was the intentions they held in their hearts and mind. YOU CAN NEVER LEGISLATE AGAINST WHAT PEOPLE THINK. Racism is NOT thinking about how much you don't like another racial group, it's taking actioin against it. The US government cannot do that. If the govenment pulls people out of line because of their skin color - the government of the US is now racist. It's that simple.

Yes, there is insecurity in a free society, that's the nature of it. It's a risk, yes...and the American experiement has proven that it's a risk worth taking.
Comment on a Comment

i just want to say, i believe we will never be a post-racial society. condi and colin are only superficial indicators of a post racial society. its all a facade, a way to stop allegations of racism. come on, look at michelle malkin - an asian american woman in favor of the WWII japanese internment camps. margaret cho had an interesting response to malkin which relates to this post-racial thingy you're talking about. check it out: http://margaretcho.com/blog/indefenseofmichellemalkin.htm

My favorite Margaret Cho quote:

Not since Salman Rushdie released The Satanic Verses have people been so pissed off at an author. I would love to issue a fatwah against her, but I am not sure how to go about it.

I know it's a joke, but more and more you see the far left siding with radical Islam. Note that Osama Bin Laden quoted Michael Moore in his last video. Notice very few film people talk about or even acknowledge the Van Gogh murder....see Team America - MM becoming a suicide bomber...prediction: we see more of this and it becomes less of a joke.

A couple of comments...I know we can one day live in a post-racial society because many of my relationships are post-racial. I grew up with an interesting group of close friends, a couple of Persians, a couple of Jewish, me the 1/2 Chinese guy, and a couple of white boys...not the most diverse (somehow blacks and hispanics get more credit for being diverse), but nonetheless, for me, a good opportunity to witness different cultures. And when I see people I know, and especially people I like and love, I never see them for their race - it becomes completely unimportant and if anything, a joke. That doesn't mean we weren't brutal to each other in middle school, with racial taunts. We were. That doesn't mean we all still have racial biases towards other people. We do. But what it does indicate to me is that it is possible to see beyond race and religion and difference towards something bigger - friendship and love and all that cheesy shit.

Before complaining about racism today, I think it is important to recognize how far this country has come over the years towards a post-racial society. We are not there yet, but over time, I've seen more progression than regression. We're the most racially integrated and diverse country on earth and it's only because of this that we are even able to have this discussion. People in the US complain about US racism, which is about the number of african americans admitted into elite colleges and the difficulty in some race groups getting home loans. Compare this to Saudi Arabia who won't let women vote, or Palestinians living in Israel without proper citizenship, or africans living in the Sudan being massacred because of their race, or Muslims in France who are not able to wear headscarves to school. (please don't say religion versus race, you know the same type of things apply)...Not to mention in most countries around the world they don't even have colleges, much less elite colleges or the opportunity to own homes at all. I love how people are so quick to throw the racism charge towards people with differing opinions right here in the US, but barely even acknowledge the much more rampant and horrible racism and sexism abroad. Saddam gases a group of people because of their race, the Kurds, and the far left doesn't think such behavior warrants punishment. Yet the same people think that someone with a smart argument for how affirmative action is either unjust or unbeneficial to minorities is racist.

I don't see how Condi and Colin are facades. No one is suggesting that because Condi is Secretary of State that we are now racially equal...it's just pointing out a rather fascinating fact that we don't blink and eye about today, but would have been impossible 40 or even 10 years ago.

I'm not sure that Michelle Malkin is racist. Why can't people pose provacative questions without being labeled as racist?

Let's look at racial profiling and Sept 11th (which is really the subject Malkin is talking about). Of all the airline security measures that could have prevented 9/11 (by the airlines...granted the FBI and CIA could have done a better job in the first place) is a search of "higher risk" people - that means Arab males between 18-40 years old. Performing a double check on that group by the airlines would have likely prevented part, if not all, of the 9/11 hijackers. I'm not sure if such a policy would be the best idea - but at the very least, such a policy ought to be worthy of discussion without fear of being labeled immediately as racist and therefore out of the question. Believe it or not, there are more important issues that racism. Security for one...for instance - would you rather be racist or dead from a plane hijacking - obviously, one would rather be racist. But that is an unfair example. Would you, however, rather be "racist" and feel secure knowing that Arab males not born in the US between 18-40 were being double checked at airline security? I'm not sure, that's a question people ought to ask themselves....and if I were such an Arab male, I would likely be hurt and offended by such a policy, but I would also understand why such a policy existed.

My friend, who is Persian, told me he fully expected to be stopped at airline security. He said to me, "they would be fucking stupid not to check me." Sadly, he's right.

I read a book about how Arab's are portrayed in the media that was printed in 1999, prior to 9/11. The author pointed out that the majority of terrorists in films were Arab, but that only a handful of Arabs had ever been prosecuted for terrorism in the United States. There were a larger number of white supremicists and Tim McVeigh like folks who had been prosecuted. He pointed out these facts to demonstrate that Arabs were being unjustly portrayed as terrorists in Hollywood films. I look back at this book and think to myself - what was a bigger problem:

A) That Arabs were unjustly portrayed as terrorists, when other groups were actually more active terrorists. In a sense, we were overreacting to this idea of the Arab terrorist.


B) That we underreacted to the idea of the Islamic terrorist, that we did not take the problem seriously enough.

Post-9/11, the answer is obvious to me, although, I think many people still think A) is the correct answer.

Friday, November 19, 2004

On Condi

You know, Bill Clinton was celebrated for his progressiveness, and ease with African-Americans. But it's inconceivable that he would have given so much power and authority to a black female peer. Why does Bush get no respect on this score? I guess it reveals that much of the left's diversity mania is about the upholding of a certain political ideology, rather than ethnic or gender variety itself. Depressing.

When you're right, you're right.

Somewhat related, I remember a 507 class (intro filmmaking) where a classmate made a film about a hispanic housekeeper who works all day and goes outside to get a parking ticket for the amount of money she made. It was sad. The reaction from some in our class, "What are you saying? That only hispanics are housekeepers? Or only housekeepers are hispanics? Isn't that perpetuating a stereotype?"

Huh?!? Does these people have eyes? Look around. Reality is smack dab in all our faces and in LA, I'd guess that 90% of the domestic labor is performed by hispanic people - this is fact, not stereotype or myth. What that says is another thing...do we think that means hispanics are only capable of such work. Of course not. Does it mean that they are inferior or stupid? Of course not. All it means is that this what our society looks like.

Having a black female secretary of state is evidence we are moving into a post-racial society. Having 90% of domestic workers in LA being hispanic is evidence we are not completely post-racial. We'll get there.
Yeah for SF Chronicle

I grew up on the Chronicle and used to love it as a paper. The older I get, however, the more I realize it's a pretty crappy and unsophisticated publication. But I'm always happy when they print a good article. This one on the Van Gogh murder.

They're ought to be solidarity between SF and the Dutch. I've always felt like Amsterdam was the SF of Europe - or perhaps SF is the Amsterdam of the US, depending on how you want to put it, or more accurately, where you're from.

Also, the Chronicle has gone downhill since Herb Caen died...so it's not just me.
More on T.O.

I still haven't seen the video. But from everything I've heard this far, it sounds awesome. And it deals with the same thing in my short movie...

CORRECTION: I have now seen the video here at the Dallas Morning News - unfortunately, you need to register, and it's free.

I love T.O. - he pushes buttons and it's always the people who's buttons I like to see pushed. Here is an article.

Of course the whole thing is about race. We objectify black men as overly sexual beings. Bringing that to the forefront of discussion, in a humorous way, I think is a good thing. If something is funny, it's likely touching on something interesting and truthful....and on this subject, about our society. And let's be honest, T.O. is probably hung like a freaking horse - and Tony Dungy ain't. Sorry sucka.

Okay, so the video isn't THAT funny. T.O. is not a great actor, and neither is she, for that matter...BUT, look at what it's doing - it's pointing to synergy and what the networks are selling - Sex with Desparate Housewives and hyper masculinity with NFL football. In many ways, this is a brilliant comment on our society, in the oddest of places, a commerical. But maybe that's what makes it brilliant - what we sell. If for nothing else, this would inferiorate Islamicists - so I say, bring it all on.
The Marine's versus the Insurgents

Last week a Marine shot and killed an injured, unarmed, insurgent and it got caught on tape. Also last week, an insurgency group sent a tape of the murder of Margaret Hassan, a British CARE worker who had spent 20 years in Iraq on humanitarian missions.

Lest we forget:

Already, there have been cries of moral equivalence. One Iraqi told the Los Angeles Times: "It goes to show that [Marines] are not any better than the so-called terrorists." Al Jazeera fanned these flames of anti-American sentiment by broadcasting the shooting incident in full while censoring Hassan's execution snuff tape. (U.S. networks refused to air actual footage of both killings.) There is a simplistic appeal to such arguments because both events involve the killing of a human being and, more specifically, the apparent execution of a noncombatant in the context of war.

Yet it is the differences between these two killings that reveal the most important truths about the Marine shooting in Fallujah. Hassan was, in every sense of the word, a noncombatant. She worked for more than 20 years to help Iraqis obtain basic necessities: food, running water, medical care, electricity, and education. The Iraqi insurgents kidnapped her and murdered her in order to terrorize the Iraqi population and the aid workers trying to help them.

By contrast, the Marines entered a building in Fallujah and found several men who, until moments before, had been enemy insurgents engaged in mortal combat. A hidden grenade would have changed everything, and the Marine would have been lauded. As it turned out, the Iraqi was entitled to mercy, but Hassan was truly innocent. There is no legitimate moral equivalence between a soldier asking for quarter and a noncombatant like Hassan.

There is another key difference that reveals a great moral divide between the Marines and insurgents they fought this week in Fallujah. The insurgents choose the killing of innocents as their modus operandi and glorify these killings with videos distributed via the Internet and Al Jazeera. They recognize no civilized norms of conduct, let alone the rules of warfare. The Marines, on the other hand, distinguish themselves by killing innocents so rarely and only by exception or mistake.

The difference is so obvious that it gets overlooked.
Toilet Reading

I keep a copy of What is Cinema next to my toilet and peruse it when I go to the bathroom. (in case you wanted to borrow it) But seriously, this book is like a blog on filmmaking. There really isn't an order or strict organization to it. I rather like reading bits and pieces, and I love how informal Bazin is as an author. He talks about the process and philosophizes on film as a medium. It truly reads like a blog, which is wonderful and I almost think easier for me to digest these days.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Racism and My Movie

Email response from a crew member

My personal opinion is that I can never *like* a racist character. Once Brad uses derogatory references towards Derek, I shut down, and everything Brad does afterwards is tainted by his mindset. In regards to his portrayal (I think you mentioned that Brad's racism is meant to be unnerving but ultimately unrelateable), I don't believe that Brad looks foolish or weak, rather he looks powerful and in control. I have no idea what the rest of the story would look like, but this is all I have to go from.

In general, I cannot identify with or appreciate racist characters who are not shown being anything but. I also believe that when filmmakers touch on "hot button issues", they have to expect a reaction from people. No matter how ridiculous you think they are being, they react that way for a reason, and that won't ever change. An outsider using hate language against a member of my ethnic group as just that, hate language, will always rub me the wrong way, regardless of his/her intentions.

I don't think that you are a bad person, Greg... but I do think that everyone's a little bit racist/sexist/misogynistic, and some things you say and/or do will be interpreted as such, WHETHER YOU MEAN IT OR NOT.

That said, you can step up to the plate and knock off as many taboos as you want, but understand that your artistic choices will always be a window giving people a clear view of your mind and your innermost interests, convictions, and desires.

Decent point. And in a related story - Terrell Owens and some hot white chick.

My response:

Tony d has no sense of humor. The day will come when
enough of us can laugh at the absurdities of racism and
stereotypes...and that will be the day when we are truly integrated.

Until then the forces of political correctness will fight what they
perceive to be bigotry - which, mind you, isn't the same thing as
fighting against bigotry.

If you want to get all serious, check out what has happened to bill
cosby when he spoke up about how the younger african americans haven't
taken advantage of the opportunities paved by older african americans
through the civil rights movement. the guy has devoted his life to
these issues and knows what he is talking about - yet the response by
many in the black and white community were outrage that he would say
such an un-couth and "racist" thing. these are the same people who
don't like to recognize we have had successive black secretary of
state's and a black supreme court justice - because they are not
"black" enough. now, who is being racist?

and ps, I love T.O.!

---More comment: Frankly, I'm so bored by coversations about racism because I don't really know anyone who's an old fashioned regular ole racist anymore.
About Schmidt

I'm on a Alexander Payne kick these days after seeing Sideways and thinking about his films. I finally saw About Schmidt last night. Really enjoyed it and got into it emotionally, but found it less funny than his other films. I found it deeply sad. This midwestern, repressed male character reminds me of my father's family, being from the midwest, having a certain way of doing things and sense of decency. They really are the nicest folks in the world, but in some respects live the type of life that Nicholson character did in the movie - living this entire life and feeling at the end, what did he do or what did he accomplish....I don't think they feel this way, but I really don't know. It's hard to communicate honestly across-generations. The rules and etiquette don't necessarily translate well.

But Payne does a great job with character and details, and has a generally great sense of humor. He is quickly becoming one of my favorite filmmakers.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Onion

"If Palestine needs a hard-line religious nutjob to fill Arafat's position, our old attorney general is looking for work."
A Waste of Money

This development of neat new, hip, stylish, and cool nuclear weapons, seems to me a big waste of money for the Russians. Who knows, maybe the takeover of Yukos will pay for it. Thugs.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Does the Film Industry Care About Van Gogh?

As filmmakers, we are part of a community of people across time and across continents and countries who explore the wonderful medium of film. But my question is: do we here in LA, in Hollywood, in Leftist America, care about Van Gogh's murder at the hands of fascists?

Had it been Michael Moore at the hands of a right wing extremist, or Michael Bay by a religious nut, there would be an outrage. *This point was made by Andrew Sullivan, but I thought I'd add it as my own, to my blog.

As it is, the Hollywood left has found it more convenient to turn a blind eye to Islamic fascism and instead villify the American right.

Does anyone know why hollywood is so left wing? Hollywood wasn't always left-wing, it used to sway right-center, Hawks, Ford, John Wayne...it was only after the McCarthy era, when Hollywood, which had contibuted significantly to the WWII effort, felt betrayed by the Federal Government and the Republican communist witch hunt, that Hollywood swung so far left.
Directing a Scene

Will be out of commission today.
Some Old Review on Kill Bill

Before I had a blog, I planned on starting a blog and wrote this review of Kill Bill:

KILL BILL – This is the contentious movie of year for me. I read a scathing review of Kill Bill in the New Yorker two days before I saw it and was completely prepared to love the movie in spite of it. To me, Tarantino was 4 for 4, including True Romance, so I had every reason to have faith in the man. Further, I like (not love) kung fu movies and was excited about seeing this flick. So I head over to the Vista theatre with some college friends, ripe with the Pussymobile outside, get seats with lots of legroom and get ready to enjoy myself for two hours. Twenty minutes into the movie, I’m checking my watch. What the fuck happened to Tarantino’s fun dialog? By the time the male nurse was selling his friend sex with comatose Uma, he had lost me, and never really got me back. It was boring, the worst of all sins, and something I thought Tarantino incapable of…all my non-film school friends think the reason I didn’t enjoy is was some type of brainwashing that’s happened to me since going to school…perhaps. Or, I was in a weird mood watching it, or I saw it in a shitty theatre. But the odd thing is, most of my film school peers really enjoyed it, or at least gave it a thumbs up. And so did Roger Ebert, who is as much as anyone, pretty much on target about movies[okay, i've since changed my mind on this]. So why didn’t I like the movie? I don’t know, maybe I will see it again, but to tell the truth, I really don’t want to. I don’t want to spend my time or money on it. I’ll see the next installment, of course, and maybe try to revisit the whole thing then.

And I have issue with people who like Kill Bill and say things like, “It’s just amazing that a movie like that can get made.” Bullshit. Tarantino had carte blache to do whatever he wanted—and he had earned that right, like I said 4 for 4. Or people who say, “I just loved the production design and the camera work and the costumes and the choreographed violence, the stylishness.” Bullshit also. Anytime you start needing the break things down, means the picture didn’t work. I agree the production design was freaking awesome, but the mere fact that I noticed the production design above and beyond, say, the plot or the script, demonstrates to me a problem with the film. In all of his previous films, I had trouble isolating any element, because I loved them all so much.

The New Yorker did a great profile on Tarantino a few weeks after the scathing review. What the profile identified and I agree with, is that the appeal of Tarantino is not the irony that he gets associated with because of his acute awareness of movies and pop culture at large, but just the opposite, his earnestness. I go back to True Romance, and Clarence, the character that is clearly the most autobiographical for Tarantino. There’s a moment in the film when a guy is reading a magazine article about Elvis at a hamburger stand and Clarence, Elvis lover that he is, starts up a conversation with the guy. At first, his reaction is “this guys a creepy, weirdo, why is he talking to me?” But after a few moments, we are charmed, cause Clarence is so freaking genuine in his love for Elvis that it’s contagious. The guy lets down his guard and becomes engaged. This is the appeal of Tarantino, he clearly loves things: movies, hamburgers, Elvis, samauri swords, stylish violence, funky cars, black suits, just to name a few. But we are a defensive audience, an ironic audience, who needs to be reassured that this guy is not a creep. We need to be aware that Tarantino understands how WE see earnestness. So what he’s done in the past is pull us in with his cleverness, he shows us that he understands we are wary, that we are standoffish, but that this is all fun and games—THIS IS A MOVIE for godssake, lets have a ball, and then lets have the balls to give a shit about something.

For me, Kill Bill was simply boring, the dialog and the story were too weak and boring. For any regular director, the images may have been able to make up for the other missing elements, but not for Tarantino. 4 for 5 ain’t bad, I don’t know anyone with a better batting average, but now I’m wondering whether From Dusk Til Dawn should count….

Monday, November 15, 2004

A Misogynist

I've heard it all now. I heard through the grapevine someone at school called me a misogynist behind closed doors. Only in an insane bizarro world can I be considered a misogynist and those cutting off head in Iraq be called "insurgents." But alas, this is the times we live in....

I wish I hated women, it would make my life easier.

*See these are the types of jokes that get me labeled.
If Rice Replaces Powell

Will anyone think twice about the fact the first black Secretary of State is going to be replaced by the first black female Secretary of State...or note that the past three secretary of state's have been a female first generation American, an African American who attended City College of New York, and a single African American women in her mid-40s.

Not to mention this is happening in a Republican administration...and no one is suggesting race has a thing to do with anything because is so clearly doesn't.

Only in America.

UPDATE: A friend was a bit confused about this post and what I was trying to say. To clarify: America is a country with a deep history of racial division and racism, predominantly against blacks. My only point is that we've come a long way in the past 40 years...to the point in which it isn't a big deal that a single, African American women is now secretary of state. I think it's a testament how far we've come. Sure, there are still problems, some of them racial, but goddamn, isn't it kind of amazing?

Can you imagine the faces of Sudanese leaders when Condi smiles warmly at them, asking them to prevent militias from raping black women for the sole reason of being black...and them knowing if they don't stop, she can and will unleash an air strike, destroying an entire militia with a single plane, perhaps piloted by a women with a couple of kids at home?
First Iris Chang...

...and now Old Dirty Bastard. What a shitty week for small/medium celebrities in their 30s. My favorite Old Dirty Bastard fact: he was arrested for stealing sneakers in 2001.
Colin Powell

Everyone loves him, but it almost seems like he hitched his horse to the wrong post. His most notable "achievement" in the past four years has been going to the UN to sell the war in Iraq. And that was a big failure. Of course we still went, but his pleading didn't convince the UN to join along...and the ideologues, Rumsfeld, Cheney, etc won out. They were saying all along that the UN was worthless and by not being swayed by Powell's arguments, they were proven right.

I feel bad for Powell. He had a certain belief system about the way the world ought to work that didn't seem to fit in with the times. He put his faith in institutions unworthy of his faith - the UN and he put his loyalty in people unworthy of his loyalty - the Bush mafia. He is a good man, not a great man. He, like all good men, deserved better.
A Good Thing?

Iran purportedly giving up their quest for nukes. Who really knows if they stand by what they say.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Ebert is a Hack

He gives Reservoir Dogs 2.5 stars and Jackie Brown and the Kill Bill's 4 stars each. He isn't stupid - Pulp Fiction got 4 - but let's be honest here, he's critical of Tarantino's early stuff, which is his best and gives him props when the whole world is ready to. Hack hack hack.

Reservoir deserves 3.5 stars, Pulp 4 stars, Jackie B 3 stars, Kill Bill's 2.5 stars.
Something Really Smart is Going on Here

Again, a Postrel article on design and how we are demanding more fluid and flexible designs - as opposed to conformity.

Also, this article on Starbucks donating coffee to the soldiers. I used to scoff at Starbucks a little bit, a symbol of globalization, mass market capitalism running the small coffee shop out of business, overcharging for coffee, making it too strong for my taste. I still have some of these issues, but goddamit, if I don't love those Gingerbread Lattes, I wish they didn't cost so damn much.

BUT...Starbucks has also been the most reliable donator of coffee and snacks to student films. It also has opened up stores in cahoots with Magic Johnson in poorer areas of Los Angeles. Homeless folks in LA drink Starbucks...better and nicer coffee, I bet, than the Saudi Royal Family drinks.

It all reminds of one of my first blog posts here, about the Starbucks near USC. Starbucks is probably doing more good than all the little coffee shops in the world and who really knows if they're putting them out of business.
The Party That Hates America Loses

Flashback to 1998 and read what Virginia Postrel writes.

First the Dems hated Bush, now an increasingly large part of us/them (can't decide anymore) hate America in general. The Republicans did the same thing in 1998 and lost big. They rallied around Bush in 2000 - a Washington outsider with the message of compassionate conservatism. Whether you believe him or not is a separate issue, I think it's clear anger doesn't win elections.

Harry Reid as the new minority leader. We can start building a coalition of moderates: Feinstein, Hillary, Reid, this guy from Chicago...the Dems aren't down for the count - we've been given an excuse to rally around the center.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Water Research Log

Article on declining water due to ice melt in poles. Same article basically here.

Buying water from Canada.

Speech by Feinstein on global warming and the UC Santa Cruz, west coast water shortage because of global warming issue.

The lonely planet history of LA.

Good stuff on basics of fresh water.

Water wars. Military action against water facilities.

Reclamtion project on West Coast. Water stuff.

US Water News Website.
Clothes Store with a Conscience

There's a new store in Silverlake, near the Vista theatre that carries brand-less clothes made in downtown LA, presumably without illegal labor. The clothes were simple, stylish and functional. Not a bad idea. They were a little pricey...if I had money to shop, I'd shop there.

On the street I was asked to answer a couple questions by a cute British girl. The questions:

1. What is the first thing you noticed about me?

Answer: A half-truth - YOU ARE A GIRL. The real truth: YOU ARE A CUTE GIRL.

2. When was the last time you got a haircut?

Answer: A long time ago - maybe 2 or 3 months.

3. Do you think people work harder today or 30 years ago?

Answer: Today.

I have no idea how these questions are related or what she was after. Any ideas?
Unenthusiastic Vote For Kerry

I was thinking about an email exchange I had with a friend about voting unenthusiastically for Kerry. She was upset that I was enthusiastic. We got in a fight about it. So I laid out my position in an email, that I started thinking about again today and finally found it. I figured I ought to post it on the blog. While the election is over, I think issues and stances surrounding this election will linger for a long time. Even last night my co-producer and director got in a fight over whether the election was a landslide or not. Then the costume designer cornered me into saying who I voted for, like it was some type of secret.

Anyhow, here's my email, from which I have yet to hear a critical response.

with our kerry - bush discussion on FP, as far as i can tell, this is
the difference:

1. We both would have supported the UN going into Iraq

2. Since the UN did not support Iraq,
a) I think we did the right thing
b) You think we did the wrong thing

3. The present. Once we are in Iraq...
a) I think we've made some bad decisions, but still think the
overall is good...I think we'll only be able to correctly judge this,
though, years down the road.
b) You think we've done wrong over there, that the overall is bad,
but since we're there, we need to make the best of a shitty situation.

4. The future.
a) You are positive Kerry will do a better job making a safe Iraq
b) I am skeptical and hopeful Kerry will do a better job for making
a safe Iraq.

That's the simple breakdown of our differences, am I right? Stop
reading now, if you don't want to hear my explanation.

The reason I am skeptical is because I think it is a really, really
tough job. I'm not convinced that France and Germany, et al, if they
decide to help, will actually be helpful. These are countries with
strong financial ties to Saddam's old regime, that had zero interest
in seeing him go - they weren't standing up to an arrogant president,
they were acting in their own self interest - which means dealing with
an autocrat who suppresses religious fundamentalists (in the past, we
had this same position) and with weakening america power. There is a
mode of thought in europe and in leftist american circles that a
relatively weaker America is a good thing - for the sake of world
balance. I disagree with this. But I also think America IS weaker,
in some respects, than we've been since 1989. (separate issue)

Lastly, there is something about the concept of "manliness" that we
tend to find tacky and arrogant...but that goes a long way in the Arab

if nothing else, Bush appears tough - even if this is untrue. we can
complain and argue about this, but I think, in the eyes of the world
and americans, Bush appears tougher than Kerry. (i hear the chorus of
arguments already) Along the same lines, he appears more stubborn and
arrogant, which pisses of europeans and pisses off blue-staters. but
this "manliness" I think, affects enemies. I think terrorist have
thrived in a politically correct world that views them as by-products
of the global capitalist system. in the clinton world, these guys
were criminals. in bush's world, they are enemies. i am not
convinced that kerry sees them as enemies - I still think he views
them as criminals. but I'd rather have someone who deals with
criminals well than enemies poorly. hence my vote for kerry and hence
my lack of passion for it.

What is interesting, is that she forwared me an email from before 2000 election in which we basically had the same positions, she was freaking out over the Bush-Cheney ticket and I said "Bush-Cheney won't ruin the world and Gore won't save it."

I read my old emails and am suprised how smart I was. He haw.
Good, I Guess

They report Falluja has been taken. I guess that's good - but the real goal was to kill as many insurgents as possible.
Mabye this Whole Neo-Con Thing Will Work After All

Syria in trouble.

Many will argue that the all the events the neo-cons essentiall take credit for, "would have happened anyway." Most prominent: the fall of the Soviet Union...I hear many say, "oh, it would have happened without Reagan," or "it happened despite the United States."

These things are nonsense because they are stated precisely because they cannot be retorted. Who knows what would have happened under different circumstances? The point is, the outcome worked out generally well, given all the unknowns. That is cause for giving credit where credit is due.

The overall foreign policy position of containment against the Soviets is hard to argue against. We survived potential nuclear disaster without a direct confrontation with the Soviets and that empire no longer exists. Granted, there are problems that spawned from the Cold War (Al Queda, for one) and we still may see the negative affect of nuclear proliferation if a bomb gets in the hands of a terrorist group...but, let's face it - we were looking at the end of civilization, and even a terrorist group with a nuke or 10, cannot expect to end civilization the way a nuclear war between Russia and the US could have.

Now many point to Vietnam as a bumbling diaster and it many respects it was. But one must also grant that is was part of the overall policy of containment, which in the long run, seems to have worked.

I think we can look at how the United States operates in the world anew. I'm not sure if the policy of preemption is the right name for it...but a more aggressive US foreign policy towards states harboring bad intentions and creating weapons to be used against us ought to be combined with ideas about spreading human liberty to regions of the world that find themselves in a sorid and negative state, probably isn't a bad thing. I think this is Bush's overall idea, one that I hope we try to see through, without too many bumbling Vietnam-like problems.
Public Musings has Been Quoted

Not to thump my chest...okay, just kidding, I am thumping my chest.

I blame our political leaders for this. This is what happens when you breed contention. See the middle east.
Political Genuis

Here is the best idea I've heard in a long time about how to stablize Iraq. Create an oil trust.

The set up: Create trust where a very large percentage of Iraqi oil revenue is placed. Each individual Iraqi, who pledges allegience to the government, is eligible to receive their fair share. The trust money is invested in Iraqi government bonds. The people, in short, own a percentage of their government and have a direct financial incentive to have peace and stability. For children, this will be the best deal, because over time, this money will grow and grow as the profits in the trust grow with government stability.

If we tie the establishment of the account to voting registration, in one step, Iraqi's can both stake an ownership in their oil, their government, and their right to elect officials. They would be refusing the Baathist message, which states: we have the right to the oil revenues because we're the toughest, baddest guys on the block. It would reject the Islamicists quest for oil control in the country as well.

I don't see a big downside here, but a great opportunity. John Kerry could have run on this and gathered a couple million more votes, I should think.
Good Stuff

At Eugene Volkh's website. Interesting piece on affirmative action in law schools and a link to the Marine's in Falluja.
And They Act Like This is a Bad Thing

Spanked for bad behaviour at the work place. Funny world

I've had this hotmail account that I barely keep alive, for old email contacts and for use as a junk email address...now they've just expanded to 250mb and it has become so much more useful. Love that gmail competition.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Shooting a Scene

Just finished shooting a friend's 532 directing scene. We shot with two camera's, with one lighting set-up, which I think ended up looking pretty good. We used the 24-P Panasonic, which I had never used before. The color looks great, it's got all the nice bells and whistles a digital camera ought to have. The weirded element is that with the 24-P, you have a sound drop off, which gives this echo while you are listening, which is a tad annoying.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

This Asshole Doesn't Represent Me

Ted Rall, here's the article.

Money quote:

So our guy lost the election. Why shouldn't those of us on the coasts feel superior? We eat better, travel more, dress better, watch cooler movies, earn better salaries, meet more interesting people, listen to better music and know more about what's going on in the world. If you voted for Bush, we accept that we have to share the country with you. We're adjusting to the possibility that there may be more of you than there are of us. But don't demand our respect. You lost it on November 2.

I'm born, raised, educated in the places he's talking about - surrounded by all these great freaking liberal people and I voted for Kerry and I still think this guy is both an idiot and an asshole and the reason I'm ashamed to be a Democrat. I admit to having some of these sentiments, but I also think they're wrong and elitist. I also admit to having tid bits of homophobia and racism, but also think they're wrong and elitist. I don't espouse and thump my chest over the darker things in my head...I try to be bigger than that. Unfortunately, the Dems are letting shit heads like these speak for us.

What a bunch of clowns. First, Stern, now Spielberg?

Who's next? Sesame Street?

Maybe we can limit all non-cable TV to innocuous sitcoms and special broadcasting of Passion of the Christ. Snicker.
The Author's Name

At work, I got a tip on an interesting author who chronicles California history, but in an exciting narrative form. He happens to teach at USC. His name, Kevin Starr. I'll try to read one of his books over winter break.

Also at Amazon, check out this, amazon theater. Basically, a fancy commerical starring Minnie Driver. Use the power of the image to sell things.
For Ms. Levy and Friends

A not so sentimental piece on Monsieur Arafat. Compliments of Max Boot.
Iris Chang

This is just odd. She's found dead, at 36, from an apparent suicide. Very, very strange. I read Rape of Nanjing and bought my mother the book Chinese in America. She brought interesting topics to unknowing audiences.

I guess she was upset over Yasir Arafaf. Bad, very bad, joke.
What Happened to Reason in Politics?

It's right here. From a pro-lifer in favor of Spector. That's what I'm freaking talking about - people with beliefs, but who also believe in the process, and the process more than anything. That's America.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

On TV Tonight

Was at this speaker tonight at school named -----, a former PLO member, turned Christian, pro-Israel speaker. He was great. He gave many first hand accounts about what's going on in the Middle East, particularly in Palestine. It sounds terrible. Torture and beatings and huge anti-semitism. He was converted when he came to the US, to train as a Jihadi in Chicago during the 1980s. He was training to commit terrorist acts in the US way back then - this is the precurser to 9/11. This shit has been building, my friends. In any case, he turned around, converted to Christianity and now speaks widely in the US.

After the talk was over a newscrew interviewed him to get his reaction to Arafat's death. Then they started interviewing students and I volunteered, saying more or less what I said on my blog....That Arafat should be credited for bringing the Palestinian cause to the world stage, but that as a leader, he failed his own people and the people of Israel and caused a lot of hurt and heartache. His death, while sad because it is another human being, may offer hope to the people of both sides to come to some type of long term peace agreement.

UPDATE: I was cut from the TV program, but the guy was on it, as were other people they interviewed around me. Too bad. I liked what I said. I guess it didn't fit into their story.
Bush is a Genius

Or so says this article. My comments: Einstein is a genius, or so the German's would have us believe. When I'm put on the spot to do something funny, I fail miserably. I could get very vulger very quickly. You shouldn't elect Bush, you should have sex with him. In closing, Montpilliar is the capitol of Vermont.

The Marriage Post

I'll let the response speak for itself:

It's funny to see comments posted about me and my right to choose. I don't see how it's bigoted to know that you do not want to marry into a particular group of people, especially when that group has been known to consistently discredit my faith and my existence. As a Jew and a woman, I feel that Islam goes against my being. If over the centuries Christians and Jews had to evolve from bloody battles over belief into a more tolerant coexistence, how is it that I would want to marry into a religious group that hasn't reached the same level yet? Suicide bombings are no sign of improvement. the fact that they're a younger religion is no excuse - there are such things as internet and books (of which most of them do not have freedom to read!) and dialogue!

If Mexicans were to have religious and political beliefs that justifed and promoted the slaughter of Chinese-Americans AND if these beliefs extended to question whether Chinese-Americans should be allowed to exist in what they believed to be their own land after enduring centuries of persecution, then I would say "hell ya, Greg, don't marry them!" I wouldn't marry them.
Yes, I am including all Mexicans when it is only fundamental Mexicans that are the culprits. Let me remind you of the subjugation of women throughout the Mexican (I think you mean Middle) East. I am threatened by it and I refuse to be open-minded to being a part of it.
Now I know that times are a-changing, but I am not going to say I am open-minded to marrying someone of said group just because there are elements of change. WE have a long to go baby - especially when a director (of a film written by a Muslim) is stabbed to death in a country where you'd least likely expect to see such vitriolic hatred. (can hatred be vitriolic?)
check out Theo Van Gogh's film: http://www.genoeg.nu/

I believe in freedom of speech, but I also believe in respect for human life. Greg you have the freedom to say I'm bigoted and I have the freedom to marry whom I want, thank GOD.

The original post can be found here.

Another response:

I fail to see how wanting to marry someone with whom one holds shared values, culture, beliefs etc., is bigoted. Equal rights means access to housing, employment, education, and so on. It does NOT mean that everyone needs to date and marry whoever, regardless of whether they will have to compromise their deeply-held beliefs.
Is it bigoted to want to marry someone who has shared interests? Isn't that discriminating against people with whom you have nothing in common?
Your logic is totally off. And for the record, I, too, would not marry a Muslim.

I'm not sure if this second person actually read the post. Of course we are allowed to marry whomever we want and be friends with whomever we want. The point of being friends and choosing to marry is to be DISCRIMINATING. For instance, I can safely say, I will not marry a gay man. I do not think this is a bigoted position.

But what if I were to say, "I wouldn't be friends with a gay dude." I have the right to say and practice that - this is America, after all, I don't have to do anything I don't want to do. I don't have to date Jewish chicks, or play basketball with Black guys, or eat in restuarants where a lot of Mexican people work. I don't have to be friends with Chinese folks, or take classes from a teacher with Italian heritage. No one can force me to do any of these things. But at the same time, I think having these positions and feelings are bigoted. Maybe not malicious - it's just the way I was raised, but bigoted and ignorant nonetheless.

To the specific issue between Islam and Jews. Islam has not always been in the sorry state it is today. At one time, Islam was a thriving cultural mecca (pun intended), and the middle east was one of the most progressive regions in the world. To think that Islam has a fundamental monopoly anti-Semitism and misogyny is false...currently, Islam has major, major problems....but I have Muslim friends who are cool. Plain and simple. I am not suggesting that they must marry some of my Jewish friends - not at all. I'm just saying that I have cool, moderate Muslim friends that can out drink your ass. I have cool Muslim friends that don't drink and will only marry a Muslim, who will cheat on Ramadam if there's free food. I have awesome, intelligent Jewish friends, who think they will ultimately marry a Jewish person, because of shared cultural values and I think that is wonderful, absolutely wonderful to have that kind of connection to a culture/religion. I also have Jewish friends who have tattoos and like chicks with huge tits, regardless of their ethnicity or religion.

I guess my only point is that when discussing who you'll marry - being inclusive, "I'll only marry a Jewish person or I'll only marry a Chinese person," seems to me more legitimate that being exclusive, "I will NOT marry a Muslim or I will not marry a Chinese person."

And to me, the same thing applies to friendship (and I'll grant you marriage is a whole different thing...) So when you say, "for the record, I wouldn't marry a Muslim either," would you also say, "For the record, I wouldn't be close friends with a Muslim?" That's a question for you, because it is no question for me.

And lastly, on a personal note, some of my mother's family wasn't excited about my mom marrying a white dude. They were brought up a certain way, that Chinese ought to marry Chinese. But their family history is wrought with shit, with marriages too young that didn't work out, with divorces, with broken homes and hearts and sharing a culture didn't help a damn bit to cure all of that. I counter that with my family, that while not being perfect is pretty damn good, my sisters and I all went to good colleges, and two of us are in prestigious graduate programs. But beyond our resumes, we are healthy and happy and my parents are together and happy. We have a good life. Not perfect, but pretty damn good compared to most people. So to the folks on my mothers side of the family who at one time didn't approve of my parents being married, because of what I call a bigoted position, I respectfully request to put my balls on their forehead and ask them for jook recipes. So there you go.
Who Forwarded My Blog to the Jewish Anti-Defamation League?

Okay, sort of joking. Let's be civil in the blogosphere and try to have a little sense of humor about ourselves! As promised, I will promote and respond to the comments made on the blog, which I appreciate, even if they accuse me of having no moral compass. We'll start with that one, since it's the easiest to retort to.

The original post is here.

I admitted to a slight twinge of sadness to hear of Arafat's death, but also pointed out in my entry that, "The guy, through his corruption and narrow-mindedness, caused hurt and pain to his own people and the people of Israel."

The most voracious response, "Anyone who feels a "twinge of sadness" to hear of this shitbag's death is utterly without moral compass. This is a mass murderer, the father of modern terrorism. He differs from Hitler only in the resources that were available to him and the ability of his victims to fight back."

Another money quote for another anonymous responder: "I think we should all rejoice in his death and hope that no one who takes his place could ever be as ridiculous or dubious."

I not so respectfully, disagree. Arafat is no Hitler. Hamas, perhaps. But Arafat, incompetant and corrupt, is no Hitler. Neither is Bush, neither is Sharon. Hitler comparisons are used by intellectually lazy folks to end discussion, not foster it.

My point about Arafat, I think, is a more human one. He is the leader of the Palestinian people and a truly bad one. But he's sick and dying and for some reason, call me a sentimentalist, is sad to me. The Palestinians, for whatever poor decisions they have made, do deserve and get sympathy. I think the Palestinians and Israelis have a good chance to be better off without Arafat, but that doesn't mean I can't feel bad for him. I thought it was big of Sharon to say that Arafat can leave and return for hospital care, despite earlier pledges that if he left, he would never be able to return.

I'm not blaming Israel for suicide bombings and the general hatred way too many in the Arab world feel towards the state...but at the same time, do you think rejoicing in Arafat's death will lead to an eventual peace between Israel and the Palestinians?

You don't have to be sad in seeing the death of your enemy - but I'm entitled to feel a certain way without being accused of having no morality. My position in no way hurts anyone, and nor do I espouse that everyone ought to feel the same way I do. So fuck off!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Interview with Alex Payne

Right here.
Ashcroft Resigns

Here's the text. This should make all liberals happy. I expect a cynical response. Tear.

Now he'll have more time to play Christian hymns on his home piano.

On the taking of Falluja.


The general estimated that two to three thousand insurgents faced American forces in Falluja, but he also said he suspected that many of the senior rebel leaders, including the Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had fled before the city was sealed off. Several insurgents had been captured and were expected to provide useful intelligence, General Metz said.

United States officials said the city was now cordoned off, leaving no entry or exit.

Now why didn't we do that earlier, say, before Zarqawi had fled? That's why I voted for Kerry.
Of Course It's About Oil

Review of Sleeping with the Devil

For decades, the United States and Saudi Arabia have been locked in a “harmony of interests.” America counted on the Saudis for cheap oil, political stability in the Middle East, and lucrative business relationships for the United States, while providing a voracious market for the kingdom’s vast oil reserves. With money and oil flowing freely between Washington and Riyadh, the United States has felt secure in its relationship with the Saudis and the ruling Al Sa’ud family. But the rot at the core of our “friendship” with the Saudis was dramatically revealed when it became apparent that fifteen of the nineteen September 11 hijackers proved to be Saudi citizens.

In Sleeping with the Devil, Baer documents with chilling clarity how our addiction to cheap oil and Saudi petrodollars caused us to turn a blind eye to the Al Sa’ud’s culture of bribery, its abysmal human rights record, and its financial support of fundamentalist Islamic groups that have been directly linked to international acts of terror, including those against the United States. Drawing on his experience as a field operative who was on the ground in the Middle East for much of his twenty years with the agency, as well as the large network of sources he has cultivated in the region and in the U.S. intelligence community, Baer vividly portrays our decades-old relationship with the increasingly dysfunctional and corrupt Al Sa’ud family, the fierce anti-Western sentiment that is sweeping the kingdom, and the desperate link between the two. In hopes of saving its own neck, the royal family has been shoveling money as fast as it can to mosque schools that preach hatred of America and to militant fundamentalist groups—an end game just waiting to play out.

Baer not only reveals the outrageous excesses of a Saudi royal family completely out of touch with the people of its kingdom, he also takes readers on a highly personal search for the deeper roots of modern terrorism, a journey that returns time again and again to Saudi Arabia: to the Wahhabis, the powerful Islamic sect that rules the Saudi street; to the Taliban and al Qaeda, both of which Saudi Arabia helped to underwrite; and to the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the most active and effective terrorist groups in existence, which the Al Sa’ud have sheltered and funded. The money and arms that we send to Saudi Arabia are, in effect, being used to cut our own throat, Baer writes, but America might have only itself to blame. So long as we continue to encourage the highly volatile Saudi state to bank our oil under its sand—and so long as we continue to grab at the Al Sa’ud’s money—we are laying the groundwork for a potential global economic catastrophe.

Our long term goal in the Middle East is to get away from this dysfunctional relationship with the Saudi's. The best possibility - make a friendly and democratic Iraq that flows the oil while we develop the technology to no longer need oil.